21 Oct 2021

Nine-cent avocados: Glut leads to low prices - but it's not so flash for growers

5:54 pm on 21 October 2021

A glut of avocados this year has led in extraordinarily low prices at the supermarket, despite growers not being able to make any money.

Avocado Rescue.

File image. Photo: Kyra Holt / Avocado Rescue

One in particular - PAK'nSAVE in Hastings - was selling the fruit for nine cents each today only, as a one-off special.

Other supermarkets in Hawke's Bay were selling the fruit for around $1.

The day began with a limit of 10 per day, changing to six later on as demand rose.

"After a challenging few months due to Covid-19 restrictions, the team at PAK'nSAVE Hastings wanted to cheer up their customers and create some fun and excitement ahead of the long weekend by offering avocados in their store at an extra-low price of just 9 cents today," Foodstuffs NZ head of corporate affairs Antoinette Laird said in a statement.

"All PAK'nSAVE stores are locally owned and operated and have the ability to drive their own great deals specific to their community.

"The avocados at this extra special one-off price have been flying off the shelves for this one day only deal at PAK'nSAVE Hastings this morning and customers are absolutely loving it. The team have limited this offer to six avos per customer, so more locals can get their fair share of this great low price and have avocado with everything this holiday weekend'."

New Zealand Avocado chief executive Jen Scoular told RNZ there was a huge volume of the fruit in the country, which was great news for consumers but not so flash for growers.

"To actually be rewarded for the effort put in to growing premium avocados, the price point certainly needs to be better than [9 cents]," she said.

"There will be no return at all for growers at that value - avocados need to sell for about $1 to cover the cost and the effort that avocado growers have put in to growing avocados, so it's definitely a loss leader from a retailer perspective.

"It's a tough season for avocado growers this year and we have a lot of avocados around, and that certainly doesn't reflect the price of avocados across New Zealand, but I guess it is an opportunity - consumers can say 'right, let's add avocados to every meal we're having over Labour Weekend'."

The season is difficult, partly due to because of less exports to Australia, the impact of the Covid-19 lockdowns.

Avocado Growers' Association vice chair Alistair Nicholson told Midday Report there was a "perfect storm" of export delays, a fruit glut and Covid-19 hindered hospitality demand.

"I really feel for those people who are new into the industry, in terms of growing, and most of them will operating loss this year, but we are coming on the back of one of the best years the industry had," he said.

"The only channel that's been available for us for distribution is through supermarkets. So the ability to move avocados and make them available to those people that want to buy them and use them has been severely restricted.

"The industry is not looking for any support from the government ... we accept that there is volatility in our industry. What would help us, is it would be easy to access our export markets."